The Iraqi reporter who threw his shoes at President Bush is being praised as a hero through out the Arab world. The shoes thrown by Muntadar Al Zaidi are fetching offers from across the region. The BBC reports that the former coach of the Iraqi National Soccer Team has offered $100,000 dollars for the footwear. A Saudi national reportedly is offering $10 million dollars for the podiatric projectiles. A Libyan charity headed by the daughter of Muammar Gaddafi, will bestow a medal of courage to the reporter. Protesters in Gaza are marching with posters of Bush with shoes glued to his image. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has publicly lauded Al-Zaidi’s courage.
Mr. Al-Zaidi has been detained and it has been widely reported that he has been severely beaten by Iraqi security. Though his whereabouts remain unknown, it is believed that he has been transported to an American medical facility for emergency treatment.
Mr. Al-Zaidi’s “courageous act” is being praised by the media in the Arab world. The Gulf News, UAE’s English language daily, has a poll on their web page for readers to select their favorite George Bush moment. (See the poll here) The shoe incident is winning the poll with over 52%. The Saudi Gazette has run an editorial praising Mr. Al-Zaidi’s act of temerity. The online Iraq Daily has thirteen (yes, 13) wire stories about the incident on their homepage.
The incident has incited Arab anti-American imperialist sentiments. To a certain degree, the shoe throwing debacle symbolizes what the Arab world feels towards the President’s policies in the region. I am sure that everyone is relieved that it was only a pair of shoes hurled at the President and not grenades. The fact that the President escaped injury with his cat like reflexes allows us to view the incident with a twist of ironic humor. Though we are laughing at this, we cannot lose sight of the underlying anger and hostility still being felt by the region’s inhabitants. There is still great resentment towards American intervention in the region. The incoming Obama administration will have its hands full.
As for Mr. Al-Zaidi; his 15 minutes of fame may last a lifetime.